Joanlexandra: Dances and Songs

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Artist: Joanlexandra

Artist: Joanlexandra
Title: Dances and Songs

This project came from the desire to present piano works inspired by dance and songs. I have always been amazed by choreographic gestures in music and how they shape the rhythmic structure of a piece. Although not all of the works in this recording are actually designed to be danced to, rhythmic impulse and poise are present in each of them in many different ways. There is a tight connecting thread between the pieces featured on this CD. Ravel's Valses Nobles et Sentimentales were inspired by Schubert's Valses Nobles. In this suite of eight uninterrupted waltzes, he attempts to metamorphose the Viennese Waltz genre through the spectrum of his unique, sophisticated harmonic language. The piano version, published in 1911, was very harshly received for that reason and was followed by an orchestral ballet arrangement named 'Adelaïde ou le langage des fleurs.' The score features an evocative quotation of Henri de Régnier: 'le plaisir délicieux et toujours nouveau d'une occupation inutile' (the delicious and forever-new pleasure of a useless occupation). A half-century earlier Franz Liszt was inspired by Schubert's same Valses Nobles to write his 'Soirées de Vienne,' a series of 9 Waltzes. In his Valse-Caprice No. 6 he directly quotes him, unlike Ravel who only uses Schubert's rhythmic shapes. Liszt too expands the material through his beautiful treatment of harmony and passages. Liszt was one of Schubert's true champions and the first to bring his music, completely forgotten at the time, to a large audience by transcribing a number of his songs. One of them is Der Doppelgänger (text by Heinrich Heine), one of Schubert's darkest songs about the mental confusion and horror of the poet. Incidentally, it is written as a passacaglia, a 17th century Spanish interlude that used to be played between instrumental dances and songs. The other two works by Liszt featured on this album are his lesser-known Valse-Impromptu, a delightful Waltz showcasing some quasi-improvised sections, and his brilliant and uplifting transcription of the Spinning Chorus from Richard Wagner's Flying Dutchman. Again, Liszt wrote a number of paraphrases and transcriptions of various operas and was a fervent advocate of Wagner's, his friend and son-in law. Bach wrote a substantial collection of Dance Suites for various instruments. His English Suites for keyboard took their name after an English nobleman they were dedicated to, but were actually following the French tradition of sequential dance movements with the addition of a Prelude. Each dance is very characteristic. The Allemande, a 16th century dance generally in a moderate tempo, is followed by the Courante, meaning a fast "running" dance. The Sarabande is a Spanish dance that was banned in the 16th century for being considered indecent. The Gavotte and Musette are two French dances. In this English Suite No. 3, one can hear the influence of the "musette" (bagpipe) with the left hand G holding throughout the piece, imitating the sound of that instrument. Finally, the Gigue is a lively dance derived from the English folk Jig. Dance forms integrate rhythmic and melodic elements that have been accessible and compelling to audiences for centuries. I hope you will enjoy this journey of transformation of sound and rhythm demonstrated in the works of these composers who have inspired me deeply. - Alexandra Joan Praised for her vibrant interpretations, the French-Romanian pianist Alexandra Joan is an active soloist and sought-after chamber player who performs extensively in Europe and in the United States. She has appeared at major venues and festivals in Europe, Israel, and the United States, including Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Bargemusic, La Roque d'Anthéron, Colmar International Festival, and Tel Hai. She has been a soloist with the "Follia" Chamber Orchestra, the Mulhouse and Montbeliard Symphony Orchestras in France, and the Montenegro Symphony Orchestra. She is a recipient of the "Vocation" Award in France and has won prizes at the Andorra International Competition, the Arriaga Chamber Music Competition in 2010 (First Prize), and the 2013 Josef Suk International Competition in Prague (Second Prize). Her recital and chamber music performances have been featured on Radio France, Radio Suisse Romande, Arte TV, and WQXR in New York. For three consecutive seasons, Alexandra curated "Kaleidoscope," a concert series at the WMP Concert Hall in New York, exploring diverse musical themes and bringing different forms of art together. Alexandra received degrees from the Paris Conservatory and the Juilliard School. Her principal teachers include Rena Shereshevskaya, Brigitte Engerer, and Jerome Lowenthal.

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